A former professor of mine told our class, “Sometimes common sense isn’t so common.” I don’t remember to what he was referring and I don’t know if the comment was original with him. He could have been quoting someone.
But I believe he was right.
Even more than a need to use common sense, however, is the need for what might be called uncommon sense. Wisdom.
Wisdom, by definition, is the right use of knowledge. So how do we get wisdom and what are some steps we can take to practice godly wisdom?
Scripture says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10). Our ability to put wisdom into practice increases when we know God’s character. Knowing God’s character, we come to trust him more and our relationship with him deepens. We better understand his purposes and his ways so we make choices that are in alignment with his will.
Know God’s Word
In addition to knowing God through prayer and meditation, reading scripture can give us wisdom. Every story, proverb, and teaching includes principles for us to live by. The apostle Paul advised the church in Colossae, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16).
God’s word dwelling in us means that it lives in us, becoming part of us. Then, our minds are constantly tuned to the things of God.
Know Well a Few Key People
Members of the body of Christ also help us in our ability to apply wisdom to the choices we make. Other Christ followers can help us by pointing out those things they’ve learned in their walk with the Lord.
“Let him who is not in community beware of being alone. If you scorn the fellowship of the brethren, you reject the call of Jesus Christ, and thus your solitude can only be hurtful to you.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “Life Together”)
Know What Wisdom Looks Like
Scripture says, “The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness” (James 3:17, 18).
These character attributes will increasingly become evident in our decisions as we increase in wisdom. This is godly wisdom–wisdom from heaven. We can be more sure of making godly decisions if we use these criteria.
Know How to Ask
God has promised for those who ask sincerely without doubting that their prayers for wisdom will be answered (James 1:5). In fact, his word says wisdom will be given generously.
Father, I know that without your Spirit working in me, I’m a stranger to godly wisdom. Even when I pray for wisdom, it shows that you’re making me wiser. I know that putting wisdom into practice is an ongoing lesson in my journey. Please keep me on the path.